Five Intersections – LGBTQ Pride Month and Black Lives Matter

Every year since the Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village, New York City in late June, 1969, June has been traditionally observed initially as Gay Pride Month, and now LGBTQ Pride Month. But this year, all in person June celebrations and parades have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now everything has been overshadowed (and rightfully so) by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. His murder combined with the additional recent unaddressed murders of Breonna Taylor (Louisville, Kentucky) and Ahmaud Arbery (South Georgia) has now led to ongoing mass demonstrations around the world against racism and police brutality.

So I do feel it is important for the LGBTQ+ communities to pause and recognize the intersections between racism and “The Black Lives” matter movement with LGBTQ Pride and ongoing battle for LGBTQ equality. Here are 5 intersections:

1) Built upon the base. Though June is LGBTQ Pride Month, we all must place the highest priority on the most recent events around the murder of George Floyd, and the need for community and national engagement with the never-ending work that must continue around addressing systemic racism (see my earlier blog on personal and systemic racism). LGBTQ+ people and allies must be involved and take action around racism, recognizing that much of LGBTQ+ equity progress has been built upon the foundations of racial equity work. Let us never forget and be always grateful of the path Black Americans and racial justice activists paved for LGBTQ+ equity.

Bayard Rustin was the main organizer of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington on leading gay rights advocate in the 1970s and 1980s.

2) Intersectionality. Everyone is comprised of a complex mix of their own unique diversity attributes, and we really cannot simply separate one attribute of our diversity and consider it in isolation of our full selves. We have to consider our own race, gender, abilities, etc. as we consider our queer identities.

3) Oppression and issues. Many of the same issues impacting communities of color also impact LGBTQ communities. These include issues of healthcare discrepancies, issues around education, economic development and employment, etc.

4) The importance of allies. Racism is an issue that the white majority must own and take strong action to fix. The issues around racism cannot be laid at the feet of black people to fix; it is the white majority in power that built and controls the mechanisms that perpetrate systemic racism. In the same way, the LGBTQ community must rely and value the work of our straight and cisgender allies who advocate for our equality. Furthermore, many Black organizations, like the NAACP, have been strong allies to the LGBTQ community and include our issues prominently in their work. Link to archive of the NAACP’s LGBTQ equality work.

5) Commons foes. Communities of color and LGBTQ communities must realize that we do face commons foes; whether it be well-intentioned people who may not know how to engage us in the best way, or mean-spirited bigots who want to hold on to their power and oppress others. Marginalized communities must unite to engage and build allies while building larger coalitions to fight discrimination and oppression.

May we all work together to build a stronger nation and stronger world where we all leverage our diversity for the common good of all.

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Blog author Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training,  Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups.  Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me for your diversity speaking or training needs, or pass my name onto your HR department.  [email protected]

LGBT Pride Month 2015 – The Year of the “T”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lots of Useful and Interesting LGBT and Pride Month Links at the bottom of the blog! Any many links throughout the main article! Check them out.

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, Universally considered the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement in the US

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, Universally considered the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement in the US

Traditionally, June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month commemorating the “Stonewall Rebellion” in Greenwich Village, New York in late June 1969. Led by a set of brave drag queens, patrons of the Stonewall Tavern boldly stood up to police harassment.

In my annual LGBT Pride Month blog this year I want to focus on the “T” (or transgender) in LGBT. Why? This seems to be a watershed time with a significant increase of focus on the transgender segment of our community.

Over the past 12 months as I delivered LGBT workshops and trainings across the country, mostly in a human resources professional setting, about 80% of the questions during the “Question and Answer” time are about transgender issues. Questions like:
• What do we need to do HR policy-wise to be more supportive of our transgender employees?
• How do we make the business case to our senior executives that we as a company should be providing gender transition health benefits for our transgender employees, and that medical treatments and surgeries should be considered necessary and not “optional” care?
• What kind of training do we need to provide to the co-workers of an employee who may be undergoing gender transition?
• What bathroom should a transgender person be using? What should we do if another employee complains about a transgender employee using a certain bathroom?

I believe there are several reasons for this increased focus:
• High profile celebrity transitions (Chas Bono a few years ago and more recently Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner) have made transgender people much more visible. (LATE EDIT: Link to this cool Vanity Fair magazine cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner!)
• Transgender characters are featured as mainstream in a more positive light such as Laverne Cox (link to Time Magazine Interview) in “Orange is the New Black.” In fact Ms. Cox was the first transgender person to be featured on cover of a Time Magazine issue last year with the title “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”

Transgender woman Laverne Cox made history by being the first transgender person on the cover of Time Magazine (May, 2014)

Transgender woman Laverne Cox made history by being the first transgender person on the cover of Time Magazine (May, 2014)

• With a large majority of Fortune 500 companies now providing full inclusion for gay men, lesbian and bisexual people covered under “sexual orientation,” they are now addressing the transgender area (gender identity and expression) that may have not been fully addressed earlier.
• The younger generation now emerging into more leadership roles are much more “gender fluid” and not as tied to strict gender stereotypes and roles.

(NOTE: As a University of Chicago graduate I was delighted and proud as am alumnus to see the Jan-Feb Alumni Magazine include an alumni essay called “On Common Ground” written by transwoman Christina Kahrl AB’90 about her finding acceptance as a transgender women as a baseball writer and television analyst.)

In fact, while I was in the middle of writing this blog, Mr. Val Boston III of Boston and Associates, one of my experienced consulting mentors forwarded me an announcement : Dr. Jamison Green, a pioneering world leader in transgender advocacy (who I even worked with early in IBM’s days of addressing transgender employees) has announced a strategic partnership with the Diversity & Inclusion Center to education organizations about transgender issues in the workplace.

Since it was several transgender people who took the bold lead in the original Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, it is totally fitting that the “T” should be front and center for LGBT Pride 2015!

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Here are some additional past blogs that can serve as LGBT Pride Month Resources:

LINK to last year’s LGBT Pride Month Blog On the Importance of Being a REAL Ally.

LINK: Five things to never say to gay people

LINK: Five things to never say to transgender people

LINK: Five common misconceptions about gay people

LINK: Five Heroes of the early US Gay Rights Movement

LINK: Five Ways CEOs Can Show Support for LGBT Diversity

A Guest Blog: LGBT Gay Diversity in Direct Sales

LINK: Four Quick Points around LGBT Economic Development

LINK: The Intersection of LGBT and Aging

LINK: LGBT and Housing Issues